Google's most wanted red carpet star last year was not a Hollywood bomb, but a 50-year-old man.
Billy Porter, a Broadway veteran who became a star of the television series "Pose," stormed the style scene in 2019, blurring the gender lines and constantly appearing in the headlines.
"How we entered the carpet, at least during the awards season … it's a performance," Porter's stylist Sam Ratelle told The Post. "He is an actor. He really tells stories through clothes. We come from the theater, then the carpet becomes a stage."
His next stage is the Golden Globes on Sunday night: Porter is nominated for Actor in a TV Drama category. Ratelle may not reveal much about what Porter will wear for this year's show, but he does say the dress will be "quite real" and "symbolize hope, triumph and humanity."
Ratelle, a 31-year-old resident of the Upper West Side, began working with Porter about two years ago through Ratelle's husband, the former Porter publicist.
"It's extremely collaborative," says Ratelle about the couple's process, which he said resulted in more than 400 looks in 2019 alone. "His clients are not always excited about the [fashion] business itself. He is."
Ratelle creates humor panels and Porter sometimes sends you links to the looks of the track that interest you before they bring a designer for a given event. Many designers began clamoring for working with them after Porter's Golden Globe set went viral last year.
"It started to get easier and easier," says Ratelle, who now plans Porter's outfits approximately six months in advance.
Ratelle says that Porter's personal out-of-service style is really what you see on the carpet: he never adorns himself. He became the most influential star on the red carpet for being himself.
While the world looks forward to the appearance of Porter's 2020 Golden Globes, Ratelle analyzes Porter's five most iconic fashion moments so far.
Cut a caper
Ratelle remembers that when he started working with Porter, the actor told him: "I just want to wear layers!"
So, naturally, Porter introduced himself to the 2019 Golden Globes with an embroidered houndstooth suit and a champagne layer with pink lining from Randi Rahm. Originally, they hoped to complement the look with a pair of Saint Laurent shoes that were basically the "Wizard of Oz" heels. But the designer didn't make them big enough for Porter, who wears a size 13 in women's shoes. ("At that time … nobody would lend us heels," Ratelle adds.) Then, the stylist opted for a Gucci moccasin combined with socks to refer to the Georgian era. "The men wore bombs and white socks and embedded equipment and wigs and powdered faces, and nobody looked at them crazy," says Ratelle.
Ratelle says he gathered Porter's unforgettable outfit for the 2019 Oscars in just two weeks, after the star was asked at the last minute to present the ABC pre-show. Porter hadn't even tried it until that day. The Christian Siriano velvet tuxedo dress was complemented by a 20-carat Oscar Heyman yellow diamond ring, and the style was inspired by a Renoir painting known as "Madame Georges Charpentier and her children."
There was debate about whether Porter should go shirtless under the bolero and show cleavage. "Finally the decision [was] wear the shirt because that is the statement that makes her masculine and feminine, "Ratelle says." Otherwise, it would have been very, very feminine. "
Fit for a queen
The head of "Pose", Ryan Murphy, suggested that Porter should bring a lot of costume changes to the Met Gala 2019 to use every look of Diana Ross's famous photo shoot in "Mahogany." of the film, while wearing a decadent Egyptian number of New York designers, the Blonds, who also referred to the version of Elizabeth Taylor's queen.
With less than two weeks until the dance, Ratelle was approved by the Vogue team for Porter to bring a palanquin with six male members of the Broadway community.
"I thought," If you're going to do this right, you have to be transported, "Ratelle says." Because kings and queens don't walk. "
The Celestino Couture de Porter set for Tonys 2019 intentionally recalled a woman's reproductive system, with details of fallopian tubes on the train, as a pro-abortion message. The material itself was also of personal importance to Porter, as the approximately 30 feet of red cloth was reused from a real curtain of his Broadway hit "Kinky Boots", and then covered with 30,000 Swarovski crystals.
“We had to clean it. It was full of dust. We had to take it apart … ”says Ratelle. "Imagine this huge theater curtain entering my apartment in New York City."
Take them to church
Inspired by Porter's dreams of becoming a disco star, his diplomatic striped suit Michael Kors at the Emmy had 130,000 crystals and was a custom derivative of a white suit that Porter selected from the recent collection of the Kors resort.
For Porter, the hat, designed by Stephen Jones and inspired by one worn by a dancer in the movie "My Fair Lady", was a nod to the headdress of the ladies of the church.
"His mother was a woman who went to church, and he constantly refers to many of the hats he wears as a tribute to his origin," says Ratelle.